While omnichannel and multichannel sound similar, it’s important to understand the key differences to ensure you’re implementing the right strategies for your brand. Multichannel is more of an umbrella term to include any strategy that involves more than one channel. Omnichannel, on the other hand, goes a step further to include or account for every single channel—it’s all-encompassing. Let’s dive into a few key differences that this distinction creates.
First, omnichannel experiences are a bit more complex and nonlinear. They match the nonlinear nature of most modern customer journeys. Multichannel strategies are more straightforward—they create an unswerving line between channels.
Next, while an omnichannel approach can act as an entire business model, multichannel is more operational. Consequently, a multichannel approach may lack back-end system integration - one channel can’t transfer information about audience engagement to another channel. For example, channels in omnichannel strategies can make live updates, such as sending an email reminder of items a customer showed interest in on their website, to enable more useful and relevant customer experience across these channels. A multichannel approach doesn’t allow for this type of seamless experience.
As customers engage with a brand on different channels, an omnichannel strategy gets smarter. Multichannel is static, but omnichannel is fluid. Similarly, omnichannel strategies tend to focus more on customers, while multichannel often puts the brand at the center.